Gov. Markell addresses Delaware River Watershed Forum
Gov. Jack Markell (D-Delaware) made a renewed pitch for finding ways to clean up Delaware waterways at Monday’s Delaware River Watershed Forum at the University of Delaware.
The forum addresses water and environmental issues in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware.
Markell said to promote clean water and environmental health significant funding is needed. He pointed to legacy contaminants in First State waterways and wastewater treatment systems that sorely need updating.
Markell also spoke of the challenges the group may face when it comes to finding the funds improving water quality via the legislative route. Markell conceded his own 2014 efforts to convince lawmakers to budget more money to address those issues was unsuccessful, noting that while the concept of supporting clean water is popular, funding it often isn’t.
"You have to spend money, and there’s a whole bunch of places you have to spend money. And it is a little more complicated than some public policy issues because it’s not like there’s one specific problem. There are a bunch of them," said Markell.
So Markell urged nonprofit workers and scientists to come forward with a unified plan and regional approach that would be difficult for legislators to ignore.
"I hope you can make it more difficult for them to say no. And I think there’s power in numbers here," he said.
Both he and Congressman John Carney (D-Delaware) urged nonprofit workers and scientists to reach out to their respective officials to incite action around these issues.
The ultimate goal, according to National Wildlife Federation president and former DNREC Secretary Collin O'Mara, is for legislators regionally to take on the cause of the Delaware River as much as politicians have embraced the Chesapeake Bay or the Great Lakes.
This is the third year the forum has met to discuss clean water, habitat safeguards and ensuring that environmental goals can work within the existing economy.